I’m a freelance writer and Web designer. It’s a solitary existence, communicating almost exclusively through computer. It’s fun when things are good, and when they’re not so good, you have to find joy in your life as a freelancer. I’m my own boss, but I’m beholden to editors and client customers all the same. As Bob Dylan said, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
Tip #1: Freelance for Something You Love
Part of the idea behind freelancing is that your work is your passion. If you’re thinking, “Hey, freelance information marketers make lots of money. I should do that. It’ll be easy.” You’re doomed. You need to want to read and write to be a freelance writer. The good news is, if you have the passion for your topic, you have the most important ingredient. I love reading and writing, and I have a knack for building websites with WordPress. It’s a no-brainer for me to combine these two things.
Tip #2: Don’t Put All Your Freelance Eggs in One Basket
Think about your plan for finding work. It should extend beyond lurking the Craigslist job boards. Look for as many opportunities as you can muster. There are plenty of places to look online, but don’t forget about the real world as well. Here are some places you can look for freelance work.
- Your personal social media network
- Target local businesses and entrepreneurs
- Carry Business Cards
It never fails, I’ll run into some guy who actually mentions he needs a website, and I’ll have left my business cards at home. Like they said in Glengarry Glen Ross, “ABC; Always Be Closing.” When talking to your local businessman or woman, be sure to highlight that you will be doing something for them that they need but don’t have time to do themselves, so they can focus on their own business.
Tip #3: Know Your Strengths – Horizontal Integration
You don’t necessarily want to be Andrew Carnegie and control all components of your business and compete on that many levels. Vertical integration is not the right line of thinking for a freelancer. Focus on one thing. If a client requests something of which I’m not capable, I find another freelancer and subcontract that portion of the work to him. Website development and content writing are competitive markets for freelancers, especially with the ability to work with people internationally. The world is full of smart people. You can find good work done at good prices.
Tip #4: Read Books
It sounds grandiose, and the idea of a 4-hour work week right off the bat is a little outside the realm of possibility, unless you have the money to hire freelancers and the work to make the money to pay them and yourself. That’s not the best part of that book. I recommend it because it is an outline of resources for starting and running your business. A wealth of information. Another book that’s full of great ideas for freelancers are any of the Matthew Lesko books. Good books:
- Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
- Get a Freelance Life by Margit Feury Ragland and Laurel Touby of mediabistro.com
- 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
- Matthew Lesko ‘Free Money’ books
You probably laugh at these books, but the reason they get published is because there are people living these lives. Then they further living that life by telling you to live it, and having you pay for it. Speaking of which…
Tip #5: Familiarize Yourself With Your Local Library
Everything truly is on the Internet, but most of it is in the library also. It’s better organized in libraries too. Plus, it’s authoritative. More so than so-and-so with a blog and a bone to pick with the government. No one knows for certain, but I think works cited and reference lists look good to the search engines. I think they reward you for citing things you can’t link to. This also goes with the last point to read books. Books,.movies, CD’s, books on tape, magazines, newspapers… all free, and most likely nearby, unless you live in one of those rural meth towns destroyed by a changing economy.